Category Archives: Spelling

From Aversion… To Immersion – Making Meaning from Spelling

So how did it go?

The lesson created valuable conversations around words and their meanings.  But first, upon more reflection we made a few minor changes:

  • We decided for the “with” part (active engagement) to use a few pages of our mentor text, The Storm.  When we were looking for an example to use in the “to” (the teach)  part of our lesson, we noticed that there were an enormous amount of prefixes and suffixes on each page so we made this adjustment.  The children would be given time to work in their independent text during the “by” part of the lesson (on their own).
  • During the share,  we had the children who found prefixes stand up first, share, and then add their post its to the board.  Next, we had those who found suffixes stand up and finally the children who found both.  It kept the share more active and interesting.PrefixSuffix Lesson III

The children were highly engaged as they searched through their books for suffixes and prefixes and this lesson had high impact on their understanding.


Where did the children take us?

During the lesson, the conversation was rich, the children were asking very insightful questions and they really noticed the subtle differences in words.  This was highly analytical and it was meaningful as it was in the context of a familiar text.  Here are some of the things that came up:

  • One child made the connection to math involving shapes (octagon, triangle, quadrilateral, decagon) and that the prefixes in the name of the shapes help us understand how many sides they have.
  • A connection was made between the suffix “ed” and the genre historical fiction.  For both we used the gesture and words going back in time.
  • A conversation about titles came up as one child questioned the difference between the prefix “mis” and “Miss.”
  • One child noticed how the word prefix has a prefix in it.  This sparked a discussion about how the “pre”  tells us that a PrefixSuffix Lesson IIprefix is at the beginning of a word.
  • This is formative assessment  and as we gathered information we realized that the children had a limited understanding of what a base word was so we had to do some additional teaching around this.
  • When finding words that had the prefix “in” we talked about how a prefix can have multiple meanings and we need to find the one that fits the word.
  • A couple of children thought compound words were an example and a discussion about the difference between the two began.
  • The children found examples of a variety of other prefixes and suffixes and we need to make an additional chart.
  • They  noticed that sometimes words don’t fit the pattern like “morning” .

So what will tomorrow bring?

As with all good teaching and learning the conversation goes on with the children in the lead. The children will be adding on to  our anchor chart to include other prefixes and suffixes that the children had located such as “ous” (full of), “ly”(making an adjective an adverb), “s” or “es” (plural), and “est” (a degree of an adjective).  The key to this process is investment by the students and putting the work of learning in their handsPrefixSuffix Lesson.

Making Meaning One Word at a Time

Tomorrow we will be co-teaching a lesson as a followup to spelling.  We want children to see that parts of words have meaning –  this is why we are focusing on prefixes and suffixes.  This work has been ongoing in the classroom as a strategy for word solving and making meaning.  We want to bring it up a notch as we want the kids to become more aware of subtle meaning embedded in words.

This is how we see the lesson going:

  • We will tell the children to come to the carpet with a text to work with.Suffix Prefix
  • Connect- Compliment their reading- you have been reading more complicated text and working really hard at finding meaning
  • Teaching Point- Today we want to teach you how parts of words can help you understand its meaning.  These parts can come before the word (prefix) or after the word (suffix).
  • Active Engagement
  1. To: We will introduce 5 prefixes and 5 suffixes to the children which will be displayed on the ENO board.  We are going to name it, define it, give a visual representation and a gesture.  This will address different learning styles and provides multiple avenues for engagement. We will also use a mentor text to locate  2 examples and explain how this helps us understand the meaning.
  2. With:  We will go through this list again with the children.  We will all chant the prefix or suffix and then make the gesture.  By having the children say it we are making phonological imprints and by having them act it out we are using gross motor.  This can later serve as a non-verbal clue. We will also give 2 more examples from the mentor text but this time they will turn and talk with a partner to discuss how this helps them find meaning.
  3. By: The children will be given an opportunity to read their books looking for prefixes and suffixes that they can collect on post its and add to our display.  They will provide a brief explanation on how this helped them with meaning.


  • Link- Today as you go off to read, we want you to be careful readers that look for these prefixes and suffixes and think about how they impact meaning. If you think you are ready you can go off and begin but if you want to try another example please stay on the carpet.
  • Share- Students will be given the opportunity to share the prefixes and suffixes they have located, explain how it helped with meaning and then add it to our class display.

From Random Spellings to Intentional Choices

So how did that trip to the Computer Lab go?

We wanted to continue our work with spelling so off to the computer lab we went with our biography cards all ready to be typed and published. I started to type up my biography card(with errors) up on the Eno Board for all the students to see, and had the children take a look and then comment of what they saw. Being naturally helpful, they were quick to Spelling Inotice the red lines on the screen and to point out all the mistakes that I made.

A conversation began connecting the digital writing to their own writing in the classroom with a focus on the importance of making it look right to the reader. It was their turn to try it and the typing began. It didn’t take long for them to start noticing and talking about the red lines that were appearing on their screen. We experimented with spell check and right clicking on the words for suggested spellings and alongside this we took out our word lists as a tool to help us make our work the best it could be. It was amazing to see how open to fixing their spelling they were when the activity was completed on the computer. They were fully engaged and focused on the task of fixing everything to get rid of the red lines. Again, we connected this process to the editing process in the classroom. Reflecting we wondered…

Why did children seem more motivated to do this work on the computer rather than on paper?
Spelling IIIs there a way to make editing on paper mirror the activity we did on the computer so the children will be more engaged in the editing process?

New Thinking & Try Try Again…
Maybe – we should try a spinner (like on the old board games) where children spin the spinner for different ways to engage a less appealing editing process like spelling – one could be: spell check, ask a friend, highlighter tag, or dictionary safe zone. Then keep a tally as to what kids find the most helpful.

What does the research say about spelling anyway? We’ll have to look into that for next time.

Spelling Moving From How to Why

The topic of spelling is one that seems to be talked about at great length.  Two different sides exist: One side believes in and values spelling lists that drive weekly tests. The other side believes that spelling should be taught in context and within real life work.  


  • Spelling is an area that we keep coming back to:
  • How do you make students care about using correct spelling?
  • How can we motivate them to use the tools we provide so they may self-edit their work?
  • How can we make them accountable?
  • Is it too much for them to maneuver being a creative writer trying out new strategies and being a good speller?


We believe that spelling is only truly learned when it is meaningful to the children.  We believe this because time and time again students are given weekly spelling lists and tests scoring a perfect score at the end of the week.  However, this does not transfer to their writing and they are still not spelling these words correctly.  We  understand the reality is that our children are growing up in a world with technology and spell check.   How can we use this understanding to drive our efforts to make our children more aware of spelling words correctly?

Spelling is rough.  What if we had students work within a small part of the writing process and then take that writing and transcribe it into the computer?   Chances are they would undoubtedly see all the red squiggly lines and that would draw their attention to the importance of spelling.  Or, how about using interactive writing linked to your read aloud so students can experience the editing process collectively?  Maybe we can incorporate writing tools so students can be more independent – that’s another scaffold.  Another way to hit this is to do a shared reading that focuses on common prefixes and suffixes.  List:suffixes Roots:

So how did it go?

I tried the shared writing idea, but didn’t link it to the read aloud.  There was an opening in our day to just try out a shared writing experience.  Well, since we have been having a lot of snow, the kids were very motivated to do a shared writing involving snow. I shared the pen with one student and passed it around until everyone had a turn.  We focused on connecting our ideas, and when we finished we did a choral read of the story.  Then we went sentence by sentence to see if anyone noticed that there was anything incorrect (spelling/punctuation).  Kids were very happy to share, and the whole experience was very inclusive.  The kids who made the errors were the ones who actually noticed their own errors.  They discovered how while getting their ideas down on the page they were focused on the creative process but they realized how the editing process was also so important.  When they took the time to really reread it the errors popped right out. Now that this was completed we decided upon a title:“A Taste of Snow”


This piece would make a lot of sense to Ralph Fletcher they were really writing this to please their audience: